As I mentioned in this little post, we just returned from a vacation to Minnesota, where we were visiting my husband’s family. To round out my review, I thought I’d jump on the Five Favorites bandwagon to share some more of the trip’s highlights.
But first, it goes without saying that our most favorite thing of all from the trip was just hanging out with Brennan’s family. We usually feel lucky if we fit in one visit with each of Brennan’s relatives on our trips to Minnesota. But this time we saw most of them en masse four different times, plus individual visits with most of the crew. It was great. We also spent some time with Brennan’s stepfather at his nursing home. I wrote a sentimental little post about it yesterday. I hope you’ll check it out.
Here are some of my other favorites, in no particular order:
— 1 —
We take one of these pictures (with two of Brennan’s sisters) every time we visit. Our 21-month-old won’t tolerate it, but our 3-year-old is just fine. Our plan is to have a whole series of the shots – from his first Minnesota visit at just six months old, to however old he is when he finally refuses to let his aunts kiss him.
— 2 —
I know I mentioned it in my previous post, but geez, that place is wonderful. Not only is the waterfall itself beautiful, and not only can you get pretty darned close to it, but the rest of the park is great too. There are lots of walking and biking trails, there’s an area where you can swim downstream from the falls, and you can even rent one of these lovely contraptions for a tour around the park:
Disclosure: I do not know how to ride a bike. (Yes, you read that correctly.) So I was very little use to my husband on this thing. Poor guy. At one point he complained that I didn’t seem to know when to peddle and when not to. I replied, “How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t know how to ride a bike?!”
— 3 —
These lovely earrings.
Our sister-in-law, Lisa, is a very talented jewelry artist. She makes glass beads to use in her designs and she also makes fine metal jewelry. (Check out her website here.) When Lisa and her husband were visiting us a few months ago, she made molds of some of the ornate hardware in our 150-year-old house. When we saw them in Minnesota, Lisa presented me with a lovely set of silver earrings and a necklace pendant, which she had made from one of the molds. Isn’t that wonderfully thoughtful and generous of her? I was so excited, I wore them for most of the rest of our vacation.
— 4 —
Watching the boys “build a tower” by dismantling their (very tolerant) Uncle Jack’s garden.
First of all, Jack’s garden is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I have nearly zero experience when it comes to growing fruits and vegetables, but oh, how I want to learn. I was just about salivating, looking at his gorgeous set-up.
And yes – he was so tolerant. The boys were picking up boards (and, er, bricks) that Jack uses to weigh down netting over his strawberry plants. It was great to see how creatively they played and how well they worked together.
— 5 —
Watching (and dodging) the boys as they wrestled with Uncle Josh.
Poor Josh. Those boys had a heck of a squealing, screaming, thrashing, rolling good time, but Josh came out a little worse for the wear. Our littlest guy scratched his face pretty deeply. I think (hope?) Josh was planning to come up with a better story for his coworkers than “My cousin’s 21-month-old attacked my face.”
— Bonus —
(I’ve got to add a little bonus, not-in-Minnesota-but-still-very-much-a-favorite-part-of-our-trip Favorite, here:)
A glass of wine on the return flight.
Despite lots of people’s suggestions that I should, I usually don’t imbibe on a plane, especially when I’ve got the little guys to keep track of. But this time we barely made it onto the flight.
We were later leaving for the airport than we planned, we hit traffic, security was slow, blah, blah, blah… The end result was that we had to scurry our way all through the airport, trying to make it to the gate on time. It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Home Alone, but our three-year-old did fall flat on his face twice because his little feet just couldn’t keep up with our pace. We hurried up to the gate, huffing and puffing, and were relieved to learn we could still board the plane. We were the last folks to do so. And we had two car seats to install, two toddlers to wrangle, and a stroller to break down and store in a stupid, stupid travel bag. (My littlest guy twice escaped from me while I was trying to break down the stroller. He ran right onto the plane by himself. I had to retrieve him from First Class. Both times.) Our fellow passengers loved us, I’m sure.
Anyway, we settled in for the flight, sweaty and out-of-breath, and I divvied up the sandwiches I had snatched for us on the way onto the plane. (“PleasedoIhavetime- toseeiftheyhavesandwichesinthatcooler!?!” is, I think, what I said to the gate attendant.) The boys were uneasy and we didn’t have much milk to offer them, but thankfully they both drifted off to sleep.
So I ordered my wine. I sat still and I sipped it. I didn’t think. I didn’t occupy my mind or my hands. I just sat and let that dry airplane air and that just-okay-tasting pinot grigio cool and calm me down. I think I may have enjoyed it more than any other glass of wine I’ve had in recent memory. It was lovely.
For about an hour, when the screaming resumed.